ISS BLOG - Impressions of the 2024 Inside Self-Storage World Expo From the Brand’s New Hire and Event First-Timer

The newest member of the Inside Self-Storage team, associate editor Ron Matejko, shares his experience of attending the ISS World Expo in Las Vegas—just a week after having been hired! Read his impressions of the industry’s most all-inclusive conference and tradeshow. Do they match your own?

Ron Matejko

April 12, 2024

4 Min Read

Editor’s note: Ron Matejko is the new associate editor on Inside Self-Storage. He started with the brand just a week before the Las Vegas event. We believe in throwing folks into the deep end of the pool; but as it turns out, Ron is an excellent swimmer!

As I slowly glided down the escalator at Caesars Forum Conference Center to attend my first day at this year’s Inside Self-Storage World Expo, it immediately hit me just how vast this event really is.

Dominating the wall space to the left of me was a massive LED screen someone affectionately referred to as “Janus Vision,” in deference to Janus International Group, one of the primary sponsors and exhibitors of the event. The company played video on this jumbotron throughout each day. My eyes were also drawn to the 30-foot-high glass walls that surrounded the venue’s main lobby. Sunshine filled the space unabated, which only added to the majestic first impression one gets upon entering the space for the first time.

During my first week with the company, I was told many times about the size and scope of this event, perhaps even warned, given that I still had that new-employee smell and only eight days under my belt when it began. While this was my first self-storage conference and tradeshow, I’ve attended and even hosted many similar proceedings during my more than 10 years in the magazine-publishing industry; so, I had a frame of reference. Still, it's one thing to hear about the event’s magnitude and another entirely to experience it first-hand.

One of the first things that caught my attention was the huge amount of networking and conversations between the approximately 4,000 self-storage professionals in attendance. Publishing executives used to chat at the shows I attended, but there was also always a sense of one’s guard being up, as if they were protecting sensitive government secrets.

At the ISS World Expo, everyone spoke openly about the industry. Experienced owners, investors, developers and managers were willing to pass along their knowledge to those who were new or had limited experience in the business. Many participants who were first-time attendees like me commented on how they appreciated the sense of community.

It was comforting to see thousands of like-minded professionals share enthusiasm for a niche sector. Dare I say, in this environment, self-storage was cool! I thought of what it must be like at a Comic-Con when someone dressed as Batman speaks to someone dressed as Harley Quinn and they can share their love and knowledge about their characters without judgement.

I was only nine days into my tenure with ISS when I found myself deep in the trenches and sitting behind the sales-center desk. There I frequently engaged with attendees about items we had for sale or served as a de facto information source by answering the many questions that regularly came our way. Meanwhile, I was fighting off butterflies and hoping to contribute in any way possible.

I was like a rookie baseball player who was making his major-league debut in the World Series. This event is as big as it gets for the brand, and I was being shown enough assurance to join the onsite team despite my inexperience. Fortunately, with a combination of confidence and naivete, my steep learning curve only lasted a couple of hours, and it wasn’t long until I could smoothly answer the basic questions and not reveal myself as the newbie that I was.

Those who did know about me recently joining the company joked that my participation in the event after such a short period of time was a true trial by fire. My response was that it was more like a trial by inferno; however, if I could survive this marathon, I could handle anything. Fortunately, by the time the event ended, I hadn’t come away with any burns.

Once the event was over and a few of us were talking in the expo hall, I was complimented on how I handled my very small part of the overall experience. It was time to exhale and head to the airport to return home just in time to sing happy birthday to my daughter, who was celebrating her 18th birthday.

Now it’s time for me to take that experience of quickly adjusting to the ISS World Expo and applying it to the primary job for which I was hired: serving as associate editor for the heralded ISS brand. Next year’s show begins on April 22, 2025, and before we know it, the time will come for us to do this all over again … only this time I’ll be a wily veteran.

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